The Pulitzer Prize & Irn Bru

as many of you know, i am a photographer – and writer.  a few weeks ago, i was booked to shoot Irish writer and Pulitzer Prize winner, Paul Muldoon – and two-times Mercury Music Prize winner, PJ Harvey.

PJ 21

this was for the University of St Andrews in Scotland for an event called ‘Soundings’ – a wonderful evening of spoken word and music.

i was also fortunate to have dinner with these beautiful minds.

which alludes to my burgeoning question:

“what does one talk about when one meets his/her heroes?”  

why was it that, when i found myself sat beside this literary heavy-weight… this mind of James Joyce proportions… this hero wordsmith of mine… all i could do was fumble for words, all i could muster, without appearing sycophantic, was talk about Irn-Bru?

((those of you unfamiliar with Scotland’s other favourite national drink, please… ask Google))

Irn-Bru… its distinctive taste… its sugar content…  and how difficult it is to source in Manhattan… blah blah blah… [he now lives in Manhattan, you see and NY is one of the few cities that i feel homesick for].

i mean… Irn Bru… for fuck’s sake!

i did buy his book, however.  a first edition, hard-back… signed, of course.

he was charming and witty.  me?  i was reeling inside, but trying to appear cool despite the surreality of it all.

and Polly Jean… she was everything i expected her to be, and more.   she is waif-like, with bright burning eyes and that mouth…  and what comes from that mouth.  oh my stars!

PJ Harvey has been such an inspiration to me.  we spoke, across the dining table, of her recent travels to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC, her poetry and the first time i saw her play live.  we spoke of White Chalk, her new album and her honky saxophone.  we touched briefly on my work, my musical project ‘Pilgrims’ with my lover (who was also at the table).

she told me to buy an autoharp.

and i will.

and i bought her book… beautiful, hard-back, first edition… signed, of course!


so… back to my original question.

should you meet your heroes?

i say “yes”


they say you shouldn’t meet your heroes…

but i am so thrilled that i did.



(c) words by Kat McDonald 2015; photos (c) Kat McDonald Photography 2015


Thank you to University of St Andrews, for this serendipitous encounter.